Polish puppet theatre established in 1937 in the Polish community of Opole (today in southern Poland) by Alojzy Smolka, its first managing director. The theatre’s members and artists were deported to concentration camps at the outbreak of war in 1939. The theatre resumed activity in 1949 as the Scena Lalkowa Teatru Ziemi Opolskiej (Puppet Stage of the Opole District Theatre). In 1952, it was set up under the independent artistic direction of Alojzy Smolka, a post he held up to 1970.
In its early period, the theatre was under the influence of Warsaw’s Baj theatre and its repertoire. In 1962, it organized one of the first puppet theatre festivals in Poland, which over time developed to become a biennial All-Polish Festival of Puppet Theatres. Zygmunt Smandzik, scenographer and stage director, was Smolka’s closest collaborator. He took over the management of the theatre from 1973 to 1979, imparting his own trademark – the auteur style – notably in his visual imagery and reflective reevaluation of the past in such productions as Ptak (The Bird, 1975), Szufladka (The Drawer, 1977), and Sen (The Dream, 1999).
After 1980, the Opole Theatre was headed by Włodzimierz Fełenczak (until 1984), Grzegorz Kwieciński (1984-1989), and Krystian Kobyłka (from 1990).
By the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, the Opole Theatre had become one of the more interesting Polish puppet theatres of its time, based upon its repertoire of productions for children and adults directed by Krystian Kobyłka, including: Pastorałki (Christmas Carols, 1992) by Tytus Czyżewski, Drums – 4 dance/s/ (2007); and by the theatre’s guest directors: Petr Nosálek, with Arlekin i Kolombina (Harlequin and Columbine, 1995); Aleksei Lelyavski, with Biały statek (White Ship, 2002) by Czingiz Aitmatov; Marián Pecko, with Dzieje sławnego Rodryga (The Story of Famous Rodryg, 2008) by Monika Milewska, Iwona księżniczka Burgunda (Yvonne, Princess of Burgundy, 2009) by Witold Gombrowicz; and Paweł Passini, with Morrison/Śmiercisyn (Morrison/The Son of Death, 2013) by Artura Pałyga.
- Ludzie i lalki. Opowieści o teatrze [People and Puppets. The Stories about the Theatre]. Ed. Z. Bitka. Opole: OTLiA, 2008.
- Opolski Teatr Lalki i Aktora im. Alojzego Smolki, 1937-1997 [The Alojzy Smolka Puppet and Actor Theatre, 1937-1997]. Opole: OTLiA, 1997.[S]
- Sych, Honorata. Zygmunt Smandzik. Dokumentacja działalności [Zygmunt Smandzik. Documentation of His Work]. Vol. 19 of “Lalkarze. Materiały do biografii” series. Ed. M. Waszkiel. Łódź, 1997.
- Wawrzynek, Wojciech, and Zbigniew Nietyksza. 25 lat Teatru Lalek w Opolu, 1937-1962 [25 Years of the Puppet Theatre in Opole, 1937-1962]. Opole: Instytut Śląski, 1962.[S]